[caption id="attachment_11451" align="alignleft" width="272"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/02\/DSC_0094.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-11451" src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/02\/DSC_0094-272x300.jpg" alt="THE GIRLS OF Marlinton Girl Scout Troop #5032 made special birthday and Valentine\u2019s Day cards February 1 for the troop\u2019s military penpal, SPC Christopher G. Boatwright. Boatwright is currently stationed in the Republic of Kosovo with the 363rd Military Police out of Grafton. He will celebrate his birthday on February 28 and plans to return to the states in March. C. D. Moore photo" width="272" height="300" \/><\/a> THE GIRLS OF Marlinton Girl Scout Troop #5032\u00a0made special birthday and Valentine\u2019s Day cards February\u00a01 for the troop\u2019s military penpal, SPC Christopher\u00a0G. Boatwright. Boatwright is currently stationed in the\u00a0Republic of Kosovo with the 363rd Military Police out of\u00a0Grafton. He will celebrate his birthday on February 28\u00a0and plans to return to the states in March. <em>C. D. Moore\u00a0photo<\/em>[\/caption]\r\n\r\nCailey Moore\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nThe annual Girl Scout cookie sales have come to a close, but the scouts of Marlinton Troop #5032 are already hard at work on their next project.\r\n\r\nArmed with colorful markers and youthful imaginations, the girls spent last Monday's meeting creating handmade birthday and Valentine's Day cards to send to their military penpal, SPC Christopher G. Boatwright, of the 363rd Military Police out of Grafton.\r\n\r\n\u201cHe's actually my niece's fianc\u00e9,\u201d troop leader Linda Friel said. \u201cI've always wanted to do something like this with my girls, and when I learned about Chris' deployment, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do so.\u201d\r\n\r\nFriel and \u201cher girls\u201d have been sending monthly letters to Boatwright since early September. In their letters, the girls talk about themselves and their days, as well as their families and pets, school and the weather. The girls end each letter with well wishes, a hope that he is safe and an invitation to come visit once he returns to the States.\r\n\r\nLetters weren't the only items Boatwright received this past December. Working with a wish list provided by Friel, the troop put their heads together and brought in enough food to fill two large boxes. Some of Boatwright's favorites \u2013 packages of beef jerky, jars of peanut butter and bags of Sweet Tarts \u2013 were among the 54 pounds of food purchased.\r\n\r\nAccording to Friel, Boatwright's deployment came as a shock for fianc\u00e9 Lyndsey Barlow and the rest of their families. A member of the Army National Guard Reserves, Boatwright \u2013 who had been attending Davis and Elkins College for nursing \u2013 hadn't been expecting to be called up when he received word in December 2014.\r\n\r\n\u201cMy family, of course, didn't want to see me leave,\u201d Boatwright said, \u201cbut with their and Lyndsey's support, as well as the support of her family and our friends, I knew everything would be okay.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn April 2015, Boatwright's unit was deployed to the Republic of Kosovo. While there, he serves as a member of the 363rd Military Police and is attached to the K-9 units as a security element. He will begin the journey home from Kosovo in early March. Once state-side, Boatwright will make his way to Marlinton at the end of the month for a Welcome Home party hosted by Troop #5032.\r\n\r\nIn addition to preparing for Boatwright's homecoming, the scouts have been busy with their annual Girl Scout cookie sales.\r\n\r\nFor the past month, girls across the nation have approached family, friends, neighbors and more in the hopes of fulfilling sales goals set at the beginning of the year, and for Friel and her scouts, the bar was set high at 4,000 boxes.\r\n\r\n\u201cI asked the girls how many boxes they wanted to sell,\u201d Friel explained, \u201cand they went as low as one hundred and as high as five thousand. We sold three thousand-two hundred boxes of cookies last year, so I thought four thousand boxes would be an attainable goal.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn addition to the overall goal, each of the 19 scouts has set their own personal goals. Every box of cookies sold counts toward a list of available prizes found on the back of their cookie order forms, The rewards differ depending on location and availability and can range from Girl Scout cookie patches, T-shirts and toys to bedroom and outdoor camping sets, iPads and trips to amusement and water parks.\r\n\r\nOf the prizes available to scouts nationwide is a stuffed cow, Daisy Belle, and for one Marlinton scout, her goal is to sell a minimum of 250 boxes of cookies in order to replace her lost Daisy Belle.\r\n\r\nOthers in Friel's troop have set and already reached their goal of 300 boxes.\r\n\r\nThe Girl Scouts of the Black Diamond Council, out of Charleston, invited Friel\u2019s troop to join them on a northern trip last fall. However, the number of available seats began to decline rapidly, and Friel\u2019s troop was unable to accompany them.\r\n\r\nRather than letting a lack of seats deter her, Friel set to work putting together a similar trip, and on Thursday, April 21, Troop #5032 will depart from McClintic Library, by bus, on a three-day trip to New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia\u2019s eastern panhandle.\r\n\r\nUtilizing the student tour suggestions found on Abbott Trailways\u2019 website \u2013 a charter bus company based out of Roanoke, Virginia \u2013 New York City will be the first stop of the weekend-long trip. The troop will arrive sometime on Friday and visits to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building \u2013 among other stops \u2013 have been arranged.\r\n\r\nFollowing their time in New York, Friel, the girls and their parents will travel to Pennsylvania Friday evening. Upon their arrival, the group will spend Saturday touring the Betsy Ross House and Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where they will visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as well as explore historic Gettysburg.\r\n\r\nThe final leg of the trip will bring the group to Harpers Ferry. While there, they will tour the field where the Battle of Harpers Ferry took place and a couple of the town's historic homes \u2013 including the home of the battle's first casualty.\r\n\r\nAnd just as Boatwright's tour of the Balkans will end with a homecoming in Marlinton, so will the troop's tour of the east coast. Following their time in Harpers Ferry, the group will arrive in Marlinton Sunday, April 24, at 8 p.m.